A Georgia mother who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter after her 4-year-old son was hit and killed by a driver while the family was jaywalking across a 4-lane street in an Atlanta suburb has been sentenced.
Unbelievably, Raquel Nelson, a single, working mother, potentially faced more jail time than the driver who struck and killed her son and then took off. He later admitted he was the driver and was sentenced to five years in prison, but served only six months. He is serving the remainder of the sentence on probation. Additionally, as Babble’s Stephanie Precourt reports, he admitted to having alcohol and pain meds before driving AND has also previously been convicted of a hit and run.
As if seeing her child die as a result of a hit and run wasn’t bad enough, Nelson, 30, was charged with three misdemeanors — second-degree vehicular homicide, failing to cross at a crosswalk and reckless conduct. Last week a jury convicted her. Each count carried a potential sentence of one year in jail so Nelson initially faced up to three years in jail — a sentence six times longer than the time served by the driver that hit her son.
So, what was her sentence? Did a judge order her to jail?
Raquel Nelson was sentenced to 12 months of probation and 40 hours of community service by Judge Kathryn Tanksley. Half of those hours must relate to child safety.
The case gained national attention with everyone from the media to the NAACP to transportation advocates weighing in and saying the mother is being punished because she chose to take the reasonable route and cross the road with her three children at the bus stop across from her apartment instead of traveling to the nearest crosswalk, three-tenths of a mile away. Walking to the crosswalk would have required Nelson and her three children to cross another, very dark side street. Anyone trying to wrangle three children knows how difficult it would be to trudge to the crosswalk as opposed to just crossing the street directly to the family’s apartment.
It was then that 4-year-old A.J. broke away from Raquel and was hit. Raquel and her two daughter were injured. To add insult to those injuries, 5 weeks after A.J.’s death investigators showed up at the apartment and slapped the grieving mother with charges.
As CNN reports, the NAACP called the case against Nelson a “grave miscarriage of justice when the mother who is still grieving is forced to fight harder for her freedom than the man who killed her son.”
The public agrees with more than 135,000 people signing an online petition calling for leniency. Looks like the public outcry worked. All I can say is thank God the poor woman didn’t get jail time. Still, she was shown no sympathy by the system and a bunch of white jurors that have never used public transportation and that will stick with her forever. Below you can see more on the story, including an interview with Raquel Nelson before her sentencing, talking to Today about the jurors, the drunk driver who killed her son and the possibility of serving jail time.
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